Newsletter of the Delaware Ornithological Society
 The Flyer 
Volume 53 | Number 7 | March 2022
Next meeting: March 16th!
Male Purple Finch by Shannon Modla.

Letter from the President

Spring has already arrived in Delaware. American Woodcocks are displaying in brushy fields and male Red-winged Blackbirds are starting to sing and stake out territories in marshes. Later this month Eastern Phoebes and Tree Swallows will be here.

We think of both Tree Swallows and Eastern Phoebes as insectivores, so it seems odd that both species arrive well before insect food is widely available, especially because both these species eat primarily flying insects which are the last insects to become available in spring. I think the answer lies in their nest sites. Tree Swallows are one of the few cavity nesters that migrate. Prior to the arrival of humans, cavities, usually old woodpecker nests, were in short supply and there are many resident cavity nesters, like chickadees, titmice and bluebirds, which compete for them. I think early Tree Swallow arrival has evolved to better compete for these cavities before they have been occupied by our resident cavity nesters. To deal with cold spells that knock down their flying insect food, Tree Swallows are one of the few species that will migrate south in spring when cold weather hits, only to return when the weather warms up again. This allows them to be here much earlier than other insectivores. The situation is less clear with Phoebes, but almost all Phoebe nests are now built on man-made structures. This suggests that the nest sites they used before humans arrived (probably ledges on cliffs) were also in short supply.

On the business side of DOS, the Nominating Committee is currently working on a slate of officers for next year. That slate will be announced at the March members meeting and voting will occur at the May meeting. Nominations and self-nominations from members are welcome. We are also still looking for someone to chair the Membership and Outreach Committee. If you would like to volunteer to help DOS by managing one of its core functions, this is a great opportunity. As always you can contact us through the website here.

 -MikeMoore, DOS President
Renew your membership now!

Avian Influenza Warning

Snow Geese by Mike Moore.

Recent cases of Eurasian H5 Highly Pathogenic Influenza (HPAI) in Delaware and other states have prompted responses from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Delaware Department of Environmental Control (DNREC).

Please see this DNREC statement for more information on personal precautions and precautions for domestic birds. 

To report groups of dead or sick waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls, hawks or owls, contact the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Section Wildlife Disease Program at 302-735-3600.

Upcoming Field Trips

A group of birders silhouetted against a sky and ocean.

Sea Watching 2021-2022
Indian River Inlet (South side parking lot)
8:00am - 12:00pm
Join Anthony Gonzon and Chris Bennett for brisk birding adventures at the Indian River Inlet this winter!

Sea Watch III – March 13 (Sunday)  8:00 AM until 12:00 PM

To be enjoyed at the Southside Day Use Area (lot on the south side of Indian River Inlet along ocean). Come prepared for cold conditions and the seashore wind and bring your scope if you have one – as a COVID precaution there will be no scope sharing, but we will try to round up some extras.

Participants should monitor the DOS website and social media for last minute changes due to weather or other conditions.


Evening Rail Trip with Andy Ednie
April 30 @ 9:00 pm - 11:30 pm EDT

Listen for rails after dark! This may be the only field trip all year where no birds are seen….only heard! A four hour Rail bonanza (in the middle of the night!) targeting 7 species. Bring long boots and bug spray. Andy Ednie  – [email protected]

*All participants must be vaccinated to attend per request of the trip leader
Meet at the Park & Ride at routes 299 & 1 in Middletown, opposite the Wawa


Blackbird State Forest
May 7 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm EDT  

Led by Ian Stewart - limited to 20 participants.

In this twist on an old walk, we will explore the area around the headquarters of Blackbird State Forest followed by a convoy to some of it’s lesser known corners in search of specialty birds and fresh experiences! Offered during the week of the DE Bird-A-Thon for folks out for the count.

Meet in the main parking lot by the pavilion (there is a parking lot by the office as you enter but keep on going past that), accessed by the entrance along Rt 471 Blackbird Forest Rd (if you are coming from US 13 the entrance is on your left just after you pass the turn for Oliver Guessford Rd. Please contact Ian to reserve a spot

Red Knot Youth Birders Trips

A hermit thrush perched in some light gray branches. The background is a muted green.
Hermit Thrush by Shannon Modla.

Saturday, March 19th at 8am
Brandywine Creek State Park

Youth birders and their families are invited to join us a trip to Brandywine Creek State Park as we look for early migrants, say goodbye to winter residents, and search for the earliest signs of spring. Youth birders must be accompanied by an adult. Loaner binoculars will be available.

Please email [email protected] to RSVP.


Submission period opens January 15th, 2022 and closes March 15th, 2022.

Open to undergraduate students 18 and older, in any year of their college studies (full-time undergraduate). Through this scholarship, we seek to increase the number of Black birders and Latinx birders studying in STEAM. Scholarship awards range from a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $5,000, depending on funding for the current year. Click here for more details on how to apply!

The committee for the annual Black and Latinx Birders Scholarship includes independent members and members of Amplify the Future, American Bird Conservancy, Audubon Society, Audubon New York, and DC Audubon Society.

Big Year at DNERR!

Calling all birders, experienced and newbies – the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve has a Big Year challenge for you!
Red-breasted Nuthatch by Shannon Modla.

Access Pass Reminder

Don't forget: Conservation Access Passes are required to visit state wildlife areas such as Augustine (including Ashton Tract), Assawoman, Cedar Swamp, and Woodland Beach.
The cost to renew your pass is $32.50 for Delaware vehicles and $65.00 for out-of-state vehicles. Click here to get your pass!

2022 Bird-a-thon!

The DOS Delaware Bird-a-thon will be held May 1-8th, 2022. Stay tuned as the website is updated with more details.

Meet DOS Member Kathie O'Neil!
Kathy posing with her spotting scope and camera while birding on the beach.
Kathie posing with their scope and camera while birding.

Kathie is a 22 year-old birder born and raised in North Wilmington. They’ve always been involved with DOS as their parents (Dave and Amy O’Neil) were DOS members and served as Field Trip Co-Chairs before they were even born. Instilled with a love of birds and all things nature from a young age by their mom and grammy, they truly cannot imagine what their life would be like without birding, and especially Delaware birding, as a central aspect to it. 
What is the best thing about being a part of DOS?
Definitely the field trips. Back when my mom was Field Trip Chair for the second time (2011-2019), we went on every DOS trip we could, and on them I gained invaluable birding knowledge from our many wonderful and talented leaders. I used to think of the year in terms of the field trip schedule (as it was at the time) and when my favorite trips were happening. Frank Rohrbacher’s List Head Start trip in January, Jim White’s Owl Trip in February, the Nanticoke trip led by Anthony Gonzon and Chris Bennett in April, Andy Ednie’s Rail Trip in early May and the Mother’s Day Walk at White Clay Creek State Park led by the late Bill Stewart as well as Judy Montgomery, Mike Hudson, and others throughout the years. All these and many more were highly-anticipated events for me when I was younger and fostered a strong sense of camaraderie and community as I looked forward to seeing the same folks on the same trips year after year. 
What is your favorite bird and why?
I’ve always had a particular love of owls, so Barn Owl has historically been my answer to this question. They’re amazing birds that I wish I got to see more often. Other birds that I love are Cerulean and Golden-winged Warblers, which I’ve always had a soft spot for since I love warblers in general and cerulean and gold are my two favorite colors. I found a Golden-winged Warbler in Delaware last May during Bird-A-Thon week and it was one of the most exciting birding experiences of my life to date. 

A golden-winged warbler perched on a branch. The background is a mottled plane of yellow and green.
Do you have a favorite birding patch?
For the past five years or so, I’ve really taken a liking to the Woodlawn Tract of First State National Historic Park or “Ramsey” as I like to call it (since the main parking access is along Ramsey Road). Although it’s not as well-known as other piedmont hotspots, it has excellent habitat that’s turned up the likes of Short-eared Owl, Red-headed Woodpecker, Vesper Sparrow, Connecticut Warbler, and the aforementioned Golden-winged Warbler, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing what spring migration will bring to Ramsey this year. At this point, I’m convinced that nothing is impossible there!
When is your favorite time of year to bird?
FALL! Although the birds aren’t singing or in fresh breeding plumage like in the spring, something about fall migration just gets me more excited. It feels like I could see anything out there... Connecticut Warbler? Sure. Golden Eagle? Why Not? Philadelphia Vireo? You Betcha! Nothing beats the anticipation of that glorious Unknown I go out looking for in the fall, and every day of fall birding seems to deliver something special!
Do you have a favorite ‘type’ of birding?
I love picking through massive flocks of birds to find the odd one out. Waterfowl flocks in the fall and winter, shorebird flocks in the spring and summer, etc. etc. The delight I get from picking a Redhead out of a flock of Canvasbacks or a Ross’s Goose out of a flock of Snows is unparalleled, even if neither of those are true rarities. It’s a uniquely rewarding type of birding and you just never know what you might turn up!
Who has been your most influential birding mentor?
My mom, without question. Her passion for birds and birding has shaped me into the person I am today and I am so incredibly grateful for that. Not to mention the countless times she’s set her alarm for some insanely early hour just so we can get to Indian River Inlet by sunrise. She’s put up with a lot from me over the years but, at the end of the day, we’re a team. I’d be nowhere without her (very literally - I can’t drive!) and I appreciate her more than words can say. I’m so glad that the love of birding is something we share together. 
Lesser Scaup by Shannon Modla.
The Wild Birds Unlimited Logo.
- Your backyard bird feeding specialist -

"Nesting season is just around the corner.
Bluebirds are house hunting - are you ready?"

Two bluebirds perched on a WBU nestbox.

Wild Birds Unlimited-Hockessin 
Open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5 pm.

Lancaster Pike & Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE

Bird ID Pop Quiz!
What's this bird? Click here for the answer.
Photo by Mike Moore.

DOS Backyard Birding Challenge

The current BBC rankings include an alarming number of ties!

Species numbers are quickly rising, and the competition is heating up.

Compete by submitting eBird checklists from your own yard. 

Learn more here.
*Rankings as of February 28, 2022.

Member Photo Gallery

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher by Shannon Modla. Redheads by Mike Moore.
Want to see your photos in the Flyer? Submit them to [email protected]!

DOS Flyer Archive

Click here to read digital copies of past Flyers.
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Our mailing address is:
DOS, P.O. Box 4247, Wilmington, DE 19807

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